Getting comfortable outside your comfort zone

Have you ever tried to learn a new language? Does panic set in at the thought of configuring a new phone or computer? What about when you’re asked to write…anything.

Trying new things, especially those out of our comfort zone, make us feel, well, uncomfortable.

And because of this discomfort, we tend to avoid these tasks. We put them off as long as possible, or perhaps give up without fully giving it a shot. Have you ever considered the impact this has on your business?

I will never forget the very first day I started my role as the print production manager at a software company. They put me at a desk, gave me a computer, and basically said, “here you go!” Now, I know that today, that’s pretty much status quo, but back in the 80s?  Let’s just say…I didn’t know where to find the power button. And the mouse?  HA!  I had absolutely zero control.

Now I know you’re chuckling to yourselves, but back then I was terrified that I was going to lose my job because I couldn’t turn the stupid computer on! Thankfully I had a colleague (a very patient colleague) who spent about an hour with me, showing me the basics. THE BASICS.

I spent hours and hours at that stupid computer. We had a love/hate relationship (definitely more the latter than the former). But you know what? After many, many, MANY hours of clicking and right-clicking and deleting (accidentally, of course) hours worth of work, I started to figure it out. In fact, I became the go-to person. I had succeeded…and thrived. All because I forced myself OUT of my comfort zone…until I was right back in it.

It surprises me how many companies stick to what’s in their comfort zones. They’d rather give up potential new business than try something different. How many companies balked at building websites, drag their heels when it comes to embracing social media, or question the value of video – which has been proven to increase landing page conversion rates by as much as 80% – all because it was out of their comfort zone.

I’m not suggesting that every new trend needs to be embraced and integrated into your business plan. But hanging onto systems because “that’s the way it’s always been done” can hinder growth, both personally and professionally. Change requires an open mind and a willingness to learn. It also requires a willingness to make mistakes (this is really tough if you have an A-type, perfectionist personality…take it from me). After all, we don’t know what we don’t know!

So how do you go about learning what you don’t know? Start with your team. An open and collaborative environment will foster ideas, and expose you to methods and tools you may never have heard of. Find the “experts” within, like the folks who can manipulate data in excel in ways you never dreamed, and in a fraction of the time it might take you today. Research productivity hacks. There are over 7 million of them on Google alone. Take advantage of free software and software trials. Ask friends outside of your industry what tools they use to improve business processes, customer satisfaction and employee morale. Hang out with millennials. After all, in 2020 they’ll make up 50% of the global workforce. And ask yourself, “What did I learn today?”

Remember the first time you rode a bike? That feeling you had when you lifted your head, felt the wind in your face, and simply took off? Now imagine feeling that the first time someone shares the article that you didn’t want to write, or when a new customer walks through the door because they received your email offer.

We are faced with learning opportunities every day. Recognizing, embracing, and perhaps even failing at them are all part of the journey to success. Are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone? Are you willing to succeed?

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Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: joanne@joannegorecommunications.com Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121